'Avatar' Scores Another Milestone With Interactive Ads

'Immersive Trailer' Ads for Blu-ray Campaign Are First of Its Kind

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20th Century Fox's "Avatar" has already achieved enough major milestones in the past year, with its dual distinction as the most expensive film ever made and the highest-grossing film in worldwide history (before inflation). But with the film's release on Extended Collector's Edition Blu-Ray this week, "Avatar" has one last milestone to cross off its list -- being among the first advertisers to try out a new drag-and-drop banner ad format.

Debuting this week on the iPad as well as sites such as UGO.com and Syfy.com, a new series of "Avatar" ads from Fox Home Entertainment allow the movie's fans to preview exclusive scenes and behind-the-scenes footage in a way that befits the film's augmented-reality-based plot. By clicking on an interactive banner ad, users can drag six exclusive clips from the Blu-ray release and view them on top of the web page's content -- complete with a resizable video player.

Created by MediaMind (formerly Eyeblaster) and digital agency ThinkJam with Fox Home Entertainment, the "immersive trailer" ads were produced in dual HTML5 and Flash formats for the iPad and Flash-enabled sites, respectively. Keith Aylmore, creative sales engineer at MediaMind, said the agency recently created a similar interactive iPad banner for Amstel but had yet to see a campaign with as much content or features as the "Avatar" execution. Because the technology is still so new, measuring the campaign's effectiveness will be relative.

"MediaMind is tracking this campaign the same as we would with a Flash ad by monitoring impressions, click-throughs and using custom interaction tracking code to track things like the click of the thumbnails and video play durations," Mr. Aylmore said. "Since the iPad is still so new, it's a learning experience to determine what will and wont be effective. But, as with other campaigns we'll apply the new knowledge and data and use it going forward with our next campaign."

Mary Daily, exec VP-North America marketing for Fox Home Entertainment, said "Avatar" has continually inspired the company to think outside its typical digital ad strategy and technological boundaries.

"Our intention has always been to create a smooth and elegant experience by aggressively challenging the advances in technology. The iPad is a platform that lends itself to endless creative marketing potential; we have just scratched the surface on what can be done," she said.

Andrew Hampp is Ad Age's Los Angeles bureau chief.
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